"He (Mark Hunt) is an excellent striker with a lot of experience. He deserves respect, but I am ready and I have confidence in
myself." - Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva
There are a million variables that go into attempting to pick the correct outcome of a prizefight, but you really can’t argue with cold, hard facts, and UFC heavyweight contender Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva has one for you leading up to his UFC Fight Night main event against knockout artist Mark Hunt tomorrow night.
“Since I started my career I never lost to a striker,” said Silva. “But statistics and numbers don't matter to me. I just believe in my training and myself.”
It is an interesting number though, because none of the five defeats the Brazilian has suffered over the course of his 23 fight career have come against someone you would classify as a pure striker. And on the flip side, several of his victims – Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne, Mike Kyle, Andrei Arlovski, Cabbage Correira – would fit that description of having a striking-based style. That kind of success could make a fighter not just confident, but overconfident, but Silva appears to have found the right mix of confidence and respect for his opponent.
“He is an excellent striker with a lot of experience,” said Silva of Hunt. “He deserves respect, but I am ready and I have confidence in myself.”
Silva and Hunt are no strangers to each other either, as the two had trained together in the past at the American Top Team gym in south Florida. Neither fighter is willing to put too much, if any, stock in those training sessions, choosing instead to focus on the task at hand and where they stand today in the heavyweight division. For Hunt, the fight is an opportunity to get back on the winning track after a Fight of the Night loss to Junior Dos Santos in May. On that same UFC 160 card, Silva lost a rematch to Cain Velasquez in a heavyweight title bout. It’s a defeat that still stings Bigfoot.
“In my eyes, (referee Mario) Yamasaki stopped the fight too early,” he said. “I was conscious and he stopped the fight.”
It’s the fighter’s mentality in vivid view. If you want to beat me, knock me out. And that’s not just talk from the 34-year-old Brasilia native, as he hasn’t been to a judges’ decision since his May 2010 win over Arlovski. That’s seven straight fights where, win or lose, someone got finished. It’s precisely why, despite his loss to Velasquez, Silva is back in a main event this week.
“The UFC knows I fight hard and I go there to finish my fights by knocking people out or submitting them,” he said. “I don't want to win my fights by decision.”
And even though this one is scheduled for five rounds, the odds of it going 25 full minutes are probably slim and none.
“I am ready to fight five rounds on the feet,” he said. “But you can’t always predict a fight. I will try to knock him out but don't be surprised if you see a submission.”
At this point in Silva’s career, the only surprising thing would be if he and Hunt hear a judges’ decision at the end of the night. So for now, Bigfoot firmly believes that this fight is the start of a 2014 campaign that will put him back in line for another shot at championship gold, and he can’t wait.
“Mark Hunt is a tremendous athlete, and by beating him I will close the year very well,” said Silva. “2013 was a great year and I learned a lot with my fights, and in 2014 I will train hard and reach my goal to be a UFC heavyweight world champion.”